Stowical Saxons Reveal their Secrets

Jim Kelsey uncovers a unique Anglo-Saxon collection, enabled by a supportive local council.

Gold pins, metal brooches and rivet-decorated combs made from antlers are on show for the first time in a ground floor museum at the new West Stow Centre at the Anglo-Saxon village of that name near Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk. The unique collection of everyday artifact that includes cremation pottery, age-blackened swords, beaded necklaces, a lead plumb level and a small ‘girdle hanger' - a symbol of the keeper of the keys - date from the fifth to the seventh gentries. All were excavated between 1849 and 1998 on the West Stow site or at the other Anglo-Saxon settlements which populated the Lark Valley between Bury and Mildenhall from AD 420 to 650.

West Stow is the life's work of archaeologist Dr Stanley West, a Cambridge graduate who first went there to excavate Roman pottery kilns in 1940. His enthusiasm for Anglo-Saxon history began when he was a child: his work at West Stow has made him a world authority on our Teutonic ancestors who came from Denmark, the Rhineland and Schleswig-Holstein.

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